Tube safety criticised after track worker struck by train

RAIB - A rail track on a clear sunny day.
(Image: Department for Transport)

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into an incident of a track worker who was struck last year by a train near Chalfont & Latimer station, Buckinghamshire.

On 15 April 2022, a London Underground passenger train travelling at around 25mph struck and injured a woman who was working as part of a planned patrol near Chalfont & Latimer station on the Metropolitan line of the London Underground network.

The track worker was working as part of a group of three in the role of second lookout. She had been provided by a recruitment agency for the day’s work. The patrol was planned to be undertaken during traffic hours when trains were running.

The accident happened when the track worker had moved from a place of safety and into the approaching train’s path to get a better view of the track ahead, as the train was about to pass her.

She was walking with her back to the approaching train when she was struck and was unaware of the risk the train posed to her, the report said.

Ineffective safety briefings

RAIB’s investigation found that the track worker was not familiar with the exact location of the accident and that safety briefings provided to her on the day were not effective at giving the information she needed to work safely.

Underlying factors to the accident were that London Underground’s processes for managing track worker safety did not adequately control the risk to staff working on the line in traffic hours and that elements of the organisational culture at London Underground did not support effective management of track worker safety.

Although not relevant to the cause of the accident, RAIB observed that some designated places of safety on the Metropolitan line are sometimes obstructed, preventing them from being used as places of safety.

RAIB also observed that the safety‑critical communications after the accident were effective, and that an accurate understanding of information was reached by all the parties involved.

Although the worker was released from hospital on the same day she sustained the injuries, she continues to suffer from the effects of the accident, a spokesperson from the Department of Transport told CM.


After the accident, RAIB made four recommendations to London Underground Ltd:

  • A review of the assessment and control of the risks arising from working on the line during traffic hours;
  • A review of the need to work on the track during traffic hours, with the aim of reducing such work;
  • Improvements to safety assurance processes and safety reporting;
  • Ensuring that places of safety are fit for purpose.

RAIB has identified two learning points: the first relates to the importance of clear and effective safety briefings; the second acknowledges the importance of effective safety‑critical communication in an emergency situation.

Chief inspector of rail accidents, Andrew Hall, said: “This accident is an alarming reminder that there is still work to be done to reduce the likelihood of track workers coming into contact with trains on parts of the railway. It cannot be acceptable that any member of staff be working on open lines with insufficient awareness of the direction a train might approach from.

“Reductions in the amount of work undertaken on lines open to traffic will lessen the risk to track workers; this is as true on London Underground as it is on mainline railways. However, some risk will remain. That is why the universal importance of good planning, clear safety procedures, effective leadership, site discipline and fulsome briefings cannot be overstated.”

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  1. Training & experience is essential within such a dangerous working environment.

  2. I find this report quite disturbing and although this incident could have had a completely different lethal outcome it does seem to be full of holes.

    As a Lookout they should always be in a place of safety with clear line of sight, and to walk with your back to oncoming traffic that’s a basic BTA and lookout training no no, we don’t just pick these guys up off the street for a shift.

    I am glad LU have been slapped into action but the agency’s supplying the staff to LUL should be closely monitored and audited.

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